GSK staff help to re-house Romanian family

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A PORTABLE home is about to leave GlaxoSmithKline’s local site on a 1,700-mile journey across Europe to house a family in Romania.

The disused building has been converted by contractors who provide services to GSK in Montrose and refurbished into a sitting room and two bedrooms.

It is the second part of an initiative by GSK site staff to help Romanians left impoverished and in poor housing at the end of the Ceausescu regime.

Before Christmas a lorry carrying more than four tons of household goods left the site bound for Sanmartin, Oradea, north west Romania, to be distributed by The Smiles Foundation. The foundation was set up in the early ’90s to help desperate children in Romanian state orphanages, the plight of whom made world headlines at the time.

Started two years ago, the charity’s Container Challenge scheme aims to help families and youngsters living on the streets of Romania or in basic mud brick huts. It challenges companies and organisations to buy a container, fill it with supplies and ship it to Romania where the supplies are offloaded and the container used as a home for a family in need.

But GSK and its contractors came up with the idea of harnessing the skills of contractor staff to convert a redundant mobile building before shipping it to Romania.

The original intention had been to fill the building with household goods before despatching it but so many items had to be shipped that the structure would not have been strong enough to transport them.

Margo Mitchell, a GSK secretary who co-ordinated the collection, said: “Combining gifts donated by staff with material which the Smiles Foundation also wanted to ship to Romania, we ended up filling 26 pallets

“Literally tons of household goods including clothing, bedding, utensils, cleaners, toiletries and children’s toys had to be sorted and listed to meet customs’ requirements, wrapped on pallets and weighed.”

To prepare the goods for transport around a dozen GSK staff used their day with pay which the company allows them annually to support charitable causes. The building was donated by Doosan Babcock, who provide mechanical services to the site and its refurbishment also involved Booth Welsh Associates, who carried out electrical work; Pert Bruce, who looked after joinery and plumbing and Kitsons, who decorated the interior.

GSK paid for the transport costs of both lorries and Forfar Removals, who transported the household goods, donated £150 towards toiletries.

The project was suggested by Greig Rooney, who was GSK Montrose site production director at the time.

He said: “By combining the collective skills and generosity of both the contractors who support the site and the staff who work there we set about an ambitious project to give something back.   It would have been easy to write a cheque but it was an opportunity for people to be more engaged and to create something different. It was great project to be involved in and I am sure everyone benefited from the team spirit which was necessary to complete it.”